By early 1872, business was obviously booming because in April, Thomas Messenger placed two advertisements in the Leicester Chronicle[1]. One for painters and glaziers, where he was offering regular work and the other for strong youths aged over 16.


Joseph Hadley Riddell and His Patent (1869/1810)

In early 1872 or late 1871, Thomas Messenger bought the rights to Joseph Hadley Riddell’s 1869/1810 elastic jointed socket patent entitled “improvements in joints or connections for uniting and securing together the ends of pipes or tubes”. This jointed pipe could be used with hot or cold water, gas or steam.

Joseph Hadley Riddell was variously an agent for The American Kitchener’s cooking ranges[2], civil engineer, entrepreneur and inventor who had a number of patents to his name including 1860/2392 “improvements in boilers”; 1862/3463 “improvements in stoves”. Whilst developing his boiler improvement patent he was also acting as sole wholesale agent for Dr Warburg’s Tincture[3], describing it as “a certain and immediate cure for in all cases for Fever, whether Jungle, Yellow, Scarlet or Intermediate[4].

Having obtained patent 1869/1810 on 12th June 1869, Joseph Riddell went about manufacturing and marketing the elastic jointed socket pipe. His works was at Hanger Lane, Stamford Hill, London with a warehouse at No. 155, Cheapside, London.


Riddell’s Advertisement – The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 8 JHanuary 1870

By January 1870, he was already selling his jointed socket pipes. In his advertisement[5] he described the joints as “the most perfect ever produced”. Reputedly they had several unique characteristics including the capability for an ‘intelligent’ person to construct a 4-inch joint, capable of withholding a pressure of 200lbs per square inch, in less than four minutes.. Six and nine feet lengths of 3-inch pipe were priced at 1s. 8d. per yard, 4-inch at 2s. 2d. per yard; six feet lengths of 2-inch pipes at 1s 2d. per yard; 2-inch elbows at 1s. 6d, 3-inch at 2s. 6d. and 4-inch at 3s.; 2-inch siphons at 2s., 3-inch at 3s. and 4-inch at 4s.; 2-inch patent joints at 1s., 3-inch at 1s. 3d. and 4-inch at 1s. 6d.

However, it appears that Joseph Riddell was more of an inventor than a businessman because two years later his business failed and he fell bankrupt[6], with liabilities estimated at £10,000 and assets of under £6,000[7]. In 1857, he had married Charlotte Eliza Lawson Cowan who eventually became a successful author, publishing at least 46 novels and over 40 short stories. She not only used her husband’s plight in a number of her novels but due to the size of his debts, she spent most of her life paying them off.

Following the acquisition, Thomas Messenger naturally spent time improving the design before he began marketing them in the spring of 1872. In one advertisement[8] he was targeting the pipes and joints specifically for hot water use, describing them as “quite portable, cannot leak, may be put together by a handy labourer; a joint made in three minutes; are as cheap when fixed as ordinary pipes”. He was obviously influenced by Riddell’s advertisements, substituting ‘intelligent’ for ‘handy’ and claiming that joints could be fixed in three minutes instead of Riddell’s four. One advantage that Thomas Messenger was not slow on advertising was that the improved joint allowed pipes to cut and jointed to the exact length required, rather than having to cast specific lengths for particular jobs. He was also dispatching pipes pre-marked up ready for fixing. Whilst his early advertisements reference them as “cheap when fixed as ordinary pipes”, no prices were mentioned.

Advertisement – The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 4 May 1872

The first known purchaser of Messenger’s new patent pipes and joints was William Port Ayres, on behalf of his client Mr. Newton of Newark-on-Trent. The order for a complete heating system, including installation, included two No. 7 boilers, 185 yards of patent 4in. hot-water pipes, 44 yards of 2-inch and 3-inch pipes and 164 patent joints.

This was s followed by Messrs William Walker & Sons, printers, of Otley, West Riding Yorkshire, who purchased a heating system including a No. 11 boiler, 369 yards of 4-inch, 26 yards of 3-inch, 19 yards of 2-inch pipes and 164 patent joints. Whist the prices charged by Thomas Messenger for these patent pipes varied very slightly between the two new customers, they were significantly higher than he was charging for the non-patent equivalent. 4-inch patent pipes were 3s. 8d. per yard, 3-inch at 3s., 2-inch at 1s. 10d. and joints (4-inch?) 1s. 3d. each. This compared with 4-inch non-patent pipes at 2s 9d. per yard, 3-inch at 2s. 3d., 2-inch 1s. 4d. and joints at 5d. each. The non-patent pipes and joints were, at the time, generally subject to a 10 or 20 per cent mark-up (which has not been included in the prices above).

The earliest known published pricing was in the autumn of 1873[9] when a 4-inch pipe was priced at 3s. 4½d. per yard; a 3-inch pipe at 2s. 8½d. and 2-inch at 1s. 8d. No prices were quoted for connectors, although they were described as proportionate. These prices are significantly higher than Joseph Riddell was charging before he went bankrupt.

Riddell’s patent became void in 1876[10], seven years after it was originally granted, by which time Thomas Messenger had sold the business and no longer responsible for the products.


Pipe Coupling Patent (1872/1545)

To view patent Click here (Opens a new tab)

Shows and Exhibitions

Thomas Messenger attended two significant shows and exhibitions during the year. Firstly the RHS Great Summer Show where he exhibited and secondly the London International Exhibition, where although he did not exhibit in person he did have a presence on site.


Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Summer Show

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Summer Show was, in 1872, held in Birmingham. In conjunction with the show an exhibition of horticultural buildings, implements, etc., was held at the Lower Grounds, Aston from Tuesday, 25th to Saturday, 29th June. To accompany the exhibition, the local committee offered a series of prizes, including gold medals for the best horticultural buildings and heating apparatus.

Advertisement – The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 22 June 1872


Boiler Trial

The organisers decided that the best method of determining the winner of the heating apparatus section was to hold a trial.

In early April, only two months before the completion was scheduled, they issued the vaguest of rules that brought a stream of concern from potential competitors.

A letter to The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, from Mr. H. Cannell[14], a hot-water engineer and one of the eventual judges, published on 6th April caused Thomas Messenger to respond. In his letter, which started by praising the local committee for their “energetic and business-like effort”, Mr. Cannell went on to offer his views on the best method to conduct the trial: –

I would suggest that a tank or tanks holding such a quantity of water as may be thought advisable, should be placed above the apparatus, and that the weight of fuel, length of time and attention required to heat the water to a specified temperature, be accurately noted. I have no doubt our tank manufacturers respectively, would be glad of the opportunity to display their workmanship and mode of construction, and I feel sure Messrs, Messenger, of Loughborough, would willingly supply temporarily each boiler for this purpose, with a couple of their patent’ valves (and which are the best I have ever seen or used), so that each apparatus could be perfectly cut off, or connected with the tank or other boiler in half a minute. Of course the expense of setting and duration of heat could be correctly ascertained by thoroughly practical men, and after the performance of each apparatus the hot water should be let out, the supply tank again refilled, and the next boiler set to work…….

Thomas Messenger’s response, where he also declared (with hindsight probably wisely) his intentions not to enter the competition, was published on 13th April:

I hardly understand Mr. Cannell’s proposal that I should find boilers, as I presume the competition would principally rest in the boiler attached to each tank. I may say, however, that anything I can do in the way of providing my patent valves, &c., I shall be happy to do. I quite endorse Mr. Cannell’s remarks as to the shortness of time given to prepare—the scheme is not even now ready for issue [see ante p. 504], and the show is in June. If a competition in buildings is intended, it should at least be announced in detail six months beforehand. In my case I have undertaken contracts, which I am bound to execute, to such an extent that I do not consider it possible that I can enter into the competition at all; and so great is the general press of business through the country, that I believe these remarks apply to nearly every respectable horticultural builder. If the competition be deferred, under these circumstances, to 1873, I hope to take part in it, and would suggest that it be deferred till that time.

T. G. Messenger, Loughborough

It appears that the trial was doomed before the rules had even been confirmed, which in itself was one of the problems. Thomas Messenger was not alone in complaining, he was joined by a number of others. The following rules, of which there were ten, were eventually issued just prior to the competition starting[15]:

  1. Each boiler will be tried for a period of 24 hours as nearly as possible.
  2. Each competitor may provide his own stoker, or may employ the one provided by the committee.
  3. Fuel (including wood for lighting the fires) will be provided by the committee; either coal or coke, or a mixture, as may be desired by the competitors severally. The quantities consumed and the value thereof will be taken into account into consideration by the judges.
  4. The piping will be emptied and re-filled with cold water each morning, and the trial of a fresh boiler will commence each morning as near 9 o’clock as possible.
  5. Each boiler will be under the control of the owner during the day. In the evening, at any time between six and ten o’clock, the fire may be raked for the night; the owner of the boiler deciding at what time between those hours he will elect to have it closed for the night, when it will sealed up by the judges.
  6. The temperature of the water in the pipes will be taken by the judges or their servants every half-hour during the day, and as often as possible during the night and morning, before emptying the pipes for each day’s trial.
  7. There will be 12 thermometers inserted in the pipes, eight being reserved exclusively for the use of the judges, and four being at the service of the competitors, during their respective days of trial. It is requested that these latter instruments maybe placed under the care of one responsible person, who must immediately replace any which may be accidentally damaged.
  8. Two maximum and minimum thermometers will be fixed for recording the atmospheric temperature during the trials. The state of the weather, and the direction of the wind, will also be recorded simultaneously with the temperature of the pipes.
  9. Notice of the days of trial will be given as soon as possible to the various competitors, with the view of consulting their convenience in attending.
  10. It is especially requested that neither any of the competitors or their servants engage in conversation with the judges’ assistants who have to record the readings of the thermometers.

It was generally understood that the boiler that kept the water in the pipes at the highest temperature with the best fuel economy would win the gold medal.

The trail was held adjacent to the main show ground, although apparently only those who were “immediately interested” were permitted to witness the trials; the public were not permitted.

An interesting fact is that a number of Thomas Messenger’s most significant rivals joined him in not entering the competition. There were conflicting accounts of how many competitors entered the competition, it has been variously stated that there were either eight[16] or ten[17], trialling thirteen[18] or fourteen[19] boilers.

Those known to have entered the competition included Messrs T.H.P. Dennis & Co., Chelmsford (two boilers, including his new patent horizontal boiler arranged in the form of a four-sided pyramidal stack with the fire in the centre). Mr. B. Harlow, Macclesfield (two boilers). Mr. E. Lumby, Halifax. Mr. Green, Leeds (his compact patent boiler, requiring no brickwork and containing two hollow shelves). Messrs W. and S. Deads, Harlow, Essex. Messrs H. Cannell and Co., Woolwich (three boilers; the amateur’s, the convertible and the complete “hot water circulator”). Mr. F. Mee, Liverpool. Messrs Hartley and Sugden, Halifax (2 boilers; one a 42-inch welded saddle boiler with terminal ends, extending waterway, and double return flues, which required no brickwork. The other was their Atlas welded cylindrical boiler, with flat top waterway and hollow midfeather)[20].

A thousand feet of 4-inch piping was used for the trial of each boiler, although for smaller boilers only 500 feet was used. Each trial was to last twenty-four hours with the water temperature being taken every half hour. The piping was supplied free of charge by Mr. Harlow, one of the competitors, using his patented pipe joints and connections; he also connected it up, again free of charge[21].

The judges appointed for the trial were Mr. Walter May and Mr. H.T. Hassall, both hot-water engineers from Birmingham together with Mr. Bennett, gardener to Earl of Stamford of Enville Hall, Staffordshire[22]. Interestingly the Earl of Stamford subsequently became a client of both Thomas Messenger and later Messenger & Co., initially at Enville Hall and then at Dunham Massey, Cheshire.

The trail itself was also somewhat ill fated; they started on 13th June with one Mr. T.H.P. Dennis’ new patent horizontal tubular boiler. The trials were postponed one day due to a tremendous thunderstorm that affected the Birmingham area, rendering the field where the trial was taking place “a perfect swamp[23]. The thunderstorm lasted about three and half-hours depositing almost two and half inches of rain and at one time there were reports of pieces of ice measuring over of one inch in length[24].

It was not until mid-July, several weeks after the event had taken place, that the judges finally issued the list of winners. The reason stated by the judges

“…was due to the tedious nature of the investigations which they had to make, while the trials were conducted under great disadvantage as regard weather, a circumstance which had rendered it very difficult to arrive at satisfactory conclusions. However, by trying by trying some of the boilers more than once, they believed that the whole of them have been fairly and justly tested” [25].

The judges went on to suggested that in any future trials, they thought that it would be necessary to “house” the pipes in some manner, so as to obviate the difficulties caused by the variation of temperature and wet weather. It was also noted that the committee gave the judges considerable latitude, “whose labourers during the fortnight the trials continued were exceedingly heavy[26].

The Gold Medal was awarded to Messrs Hartley and Sugden, of the Atlas Works, Halifax, for their welded wrought-iron chambered saddle boiler, with extended waterway. Silver Medals went to Mr. Benjamin Harlow, Macclesfield, Cheshire, for the best tubular boiler, and connections in the competition; another to Mr. Benjamin Harlow for his improvement in joining hot-water pipes; to Messrs Jones & Rowe, Worcester, for “The Witley Court Boiler”, as the best on exhibit without taking part in the trial. Bronze Medals went to Mr. Frederick John Mee, Liverpool, for a combination of hollow wrought-iron bars, dead plate, and back, for attachment to existing saddle boilers. To Mr. S. Deard, Harlow, Essex, for his small amateur’s heating apparatus.

Despite the judges acknowledging that there were significant issues with the trials, including poor weather some boilers being trialled more than once and making recommendations for future trials, there was storm of protest from some of the competitors. Almost immediately, letters were sent to the gardening press querying the perceived injustice of the results.

Indeed the Royal Horticultural Society were so alarmed at the situation that the Society’s Council issued a statement through their assistant secretary, Mr. James Richards, distancing themselves by stating that:

“they had nothing to do with the awards made, nor the appointment of the judges, neither was any medal of the Society given to the competitors”[27].

Such was the strength of feeling amongst the competitors that they held a meeting at Mr. Kettlewell’s Subscription and Auction Rooms, No. 22, King Street, Covent Garden, London, on 14th August[28]. This resulted in a strongly worked 12-point letter:

To the Local Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Meeting held at Birmingham, June, 1872.

Protest of the competitors at the late trial of boilers at the Lower Grounds, Aston, Birmingham, against the decision of the judges, by which they assigned the gold medal to Messrs Hartley& Sugden, of Halifax, against the evidence and in violation of the regulations for the conduct of the trials; which award, therefore, the under signed believe to have been improperly made, and which should therefore, in their opinion, be withdrawn. The undersigned base their protest upon the following facts:

  1. The boiler to which the medal was assigned was entered in the catalogue as being of the value of £15 10s., whereas the true value was, as they, supported by the opinion of other boiler makers, believe, double that amount; and thus the regulations of the committee were violated, and the boiler ought to have been excluded from competition; in proof of which they refer to the Witley Court boiler, very similar in construction, and only about 6 inches longer, and which was sold, with fittings complete, for £54. This latter boiler was awarded a silver medal by the same judges.
  2. Messrs Hartley& Sugden’s boiler was entered for 1000 feet of piping, but was in the first instance tried with only 500 feet, and was after this again attempted to be tried with the same length of piping; but upon the remonstrance of some of the competitors the trial was discontinued, and it was afterwards tried for 1000 feet. The size of this boiler was excessive for the quantity of pipe (500 feet) with which it was tested, and therefore any result obtained by such trial was unfair.
  3. The first trial of this boiler, though so large, and set with the greatest care, under the immediate and careful supervision of Mr. Sugden, of the firm of Hartley & Sugden, by the person in the immediate employment of the judges for the management of the trials (which person supplied the fuel, took the management of the fire, and, indeed, conducted the trial throughout), was yet a palpable failure, as it failed to preserve a fire and proper heat during the night, and the fire was found to be out and the pipes cold in the morning.
  4. In the judgment of the competitors this failure, after so full and complete a trial under such highly favourable circumstances, ought to have entirely disqualified the boiler in question from further competition.
  5. After the above failure, the boiler was allowed to be reset with extended masonry, new arrangement of doors, flue frames, and dead plates, and thus made really into a different boiler from the one originally entered for competition; and, contrary to custom in similar cases, and contrary to the expectation of the other competitors, this new, or renovated, altered, and improved boiler, was allowed to be tried a second and a third time, and thus secured the medal, the whole of the new fittings used being supplied by Mr. Hassall, one of the judges.
  6. Application for a second trial, made by two at least of the competitors (Messrs Cannell and Deards), owing to the inclemency of the weather, and under circumstances much more clearly justifying a concession, if such were allowable at all after a full and complete trial of any boiler, was refused by the judges, and there-fore ought not to have been granted to Messrs Hartley &Sugden.
  7. Whilst desirous of avoiding any imputation of wrong motives or conduct, the competitors cannot divest themselves of the conviction that there was shown to Messrs Hartley & Sugden a great amount of partiality by the judges, and that those gentlemen were in their third trial supplied with fuel of a much superior character to that supplied to the other competitors.
  8. The undersigned believe that Messrs Hartley & Sugden failed to show the essential qualities of a boiler calculated to command general sale or use, inasmuch as it was evident to them the boiler would, in order to keep up a regular and uniform heat in the required quantity of pipe, demand constant and unremitting attention during the day, and that it could not with any safety or security be left for a long winter’s night without attention, or without the certainty of being found in the morning with the fire out and the pipes cold, as the competitors believe was the case in most, if not all, the trials made with this boiler.
  9. The boiler is of too costly a construction to be generally useful, and therefore does not meet the requirements of horticulturists, or the conditions of the trial.
  10. The competitors consider that no person should be allowed to judge an article or articles of which he is a seller. In this instance such, however, was the case, Mr. Hassall, one of the judges, being a dealer in the boilers manufactured by Messrs Hartley & Sugden; this alone should disqualify them for competing for a prize.
  11. That after the three trials they, Messrs Hartley &Sugden, did not gain the points which are the most essential in a good hot-water boiler, the water in the pipes being cold, and the fire out (or nearly so) on examination at the unsealing in the morning.
  12. That no report has yet been published, although the trials terminated six weeks ago, and repeated applications have been made by the competitors.

The letter was sent to the Local Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society and signed by Henry Cannell, Chairman; Frederick John Mee; T.H.P. Dennis & Co.; B. Harlow; Samuel Deard; Thomas Green & Son[29]; Edwin Lumby[30].

The letter subsequently went before the Local Implement, &c., Sub-Committee in late August, who unanimously passed a motion

“to return the protest to Mr. Cannell, and to explain to him that by the conditions under which the trials were made no appeal from the awards can be entertained; and this sub-committee hereby expresses its implicit confidence in the integrity and ability of the gentlemen by whom those awards were made”[31].

Unsurprisingly, given the allegations made against them and subsequent motion passed the subcommittee, Messrs Hartley and Sugden insisted on their subsequent letter being published[32]:

“We are very reluctantly compelled to ask you to insert the following remarks on the above question; but as so much has been said which we consider to our detriment, we trust you will kindly insert them in justice to us.

“We have the pleasure to be able to inform you that the judges, whose impartiality has been so unwarrantably questioned, have re-affirmed their decision, and this again has been confirmed by the local committee of the show, which met yesterday at Birmingham, and to whom the protest of the disappointed competitors was addressed. The result is, that we have this day received the Gold Medal which was originally awarded to us.

“And now, sir, allow us a concluding word or two relative to the only points raised by the protest, which our reply to Mr. Mee’s letter, published by you on the 3d inst., does not refute.”

  1. The price given in to the judges, and on which the award was made, was £22and not £15 10s.
  2. We are issuing our price lists at that amount, and shall be happy to execute orders thereon.
  3. The alterations we made in our setting and fittings did not alter the boiler itself, and to prove that no partiality was shown to us, we have only to state that one of the competitors, whose signature is appended to the protest, was actually allowed to take out the solid back of his boiler and substitute a waterway back for it, which is an alteration of boiler in the true sense of the word.
  4. As to the fuel we used up to and from 3to 4 o’clock on the day in question, the fuel supplied was exactly the same as that supplied to others; at that time, however, the stock provided by the judges was exhausted without their secretary being aware of the fact, and he was unable to obtain any of the same quality as that previously used, but the cost of fuel and quantities used, were, as the competitors all well know, a very material consideration with the judges in determining their award.

“Having thus shown the utter worthlessness of the objections raised against our boiler, and its success, we now finally leave the question in the hands of the public, feeling assured that our conduct throughout the trial and the subsequent correspondence will very favourably compare with that of our opponents, who have evidently all through allowed their chagrin at defeat to overcome all other considerations.

Hartley & Sugden, Atlas Welded Boiler Works, Halifax, August 28, 1972.

Whilst there were a few subsequently published spats between Mr. Mee and Messrs Hartley and Sugden, that was essentially the end of the matter. Thomas Messenger must have been very thankful that he made the decision not to enter the competition and not caught in the subsequent incriminations.


Boiler Manufacturers’ Advertisements



Horticultural Exhibition

Although Thomas Messenger did not take part in the ill-fated boiler trial, nor did he exhibit any horticultural buildings. Giving the excuse “that it is exclusively owing to the fact that he had such a large amount of work now carrying out to order that it has been absolutely impossible for him to manufacture in the time given such structures as would do him credit and secure general approval[33]. He did exhibit, on Stand 30, a range of his heating apparatus, including his patent boiler, valves, garden engine and for the first time “his new patent” elastic jointed socket pipes[34]. However, his relatively long established triangular tubular boiler still drew attention and attracted the following write-up[35]:

….consists of parallel triangular tubes, with continuous water-spaces at each end. There are two sets of tubes, the lower ones being arranged in the form of a saddle boiler, leaving two horizontal openings on each side between two rows of pipes for the fire and gaseous products of combustion to pass through, which is then made to pass under and over another series of longitudinal triangular tubes laid flat, and which are connected with the lower series by means of a syphon. In the larger sizes of boilers hollow triangular-shaped furnace-bars are also introduced, through which all the water has to pass.

This boiler is no doubt a powerful one, but as the water has to traverse so much horizontal space, and as the flow-pipe is put at one end, the circulation will be much checked. This is a fault, however, common to all horizontal tubular boilers, and where a series of houses has to be heated from a large boiler, it is a matter of great importance ; as if the circulation through the boiler is impeded, even though the tubes are so placed as to extract a great deal of heat from the fire, still those houses which are heated by the pipes furthest from the boiler require a proportionate degree more piping in order to keep up the heat, as the slower the circulation the greater the difference between the heat of the flow and return pipes, and the greater the quantity of piping required in those houses which are heated by the return pipes.



Competitor’s Advertisements


London International Exhibition

Whilst Thomas Messenger may not have displayed any of his horticultural buildings at this exhibition, held between 1st May and 30th September, he was responsible for providing a house to display the cotton plant collection of Major R. Trevor Clarke[36]. This was erected in the western annexe, near Prince Albert Road South Kensington. The idea behind the display was the continuation of a theme from previous exhibitions demonstrating the ‘lifecycle’ from raw material, in this case the cotton plant, through to a finished article, such as clothing. Major Clarke was well known for his work in selecting and hybridizing cotton plants.

To accommodate the collection Thomas Messenger built one of his portable houses. In this instance a 40ft. by 20ft. span roof house with iron muntins down into the ground, with grooves in the slate slab sides, which fitted into the muntins. This arrangement avoided the use of brick wall. The stages were of slate covered with sand and carried on an iron framework. Ventilation was provided at both roof and front levels, using his patented ventilation apparatus. The woodcut that appeared in the 20th April edition of The Gardeners’ Chronicle & Agricultural Gazette appears to be a generic model rather than the actual version erected at the show. Heating was almost certainly provided by Messenger’s triangular tubular boiler, as the structure was referred to as a stove house. Whether the display house had finials or wrought-iron cresting is unknown, although as these were normal features of Messenger’s houses.

Towards the end of the Show, Thomas Messenger offered the house for sale[37] being described as a tenant’s fixture, because of its portability. It was subsequently purchased, complete with heating and staging by Sir (James John) Trevor Lawrence, a horticulturalist, collector and politician. Sir Lawrence, later President of the Royal Horticultural Society, lived at Burford Lodge, Dorking, Surrey, where the display house was erected. Sir Lawrence paid a total of £218 15s, which included £117 10s. for the portable house, £51 5s. for the complete heating system, £30 for the staging and £20 for removing the structure, fixtures and fitting from South Kensington and re-fixing them at Burford Lodge.


Woodcut of Thomas Messenger’s portable house erected at The London International Exhibition, 1872


Workload and Customers


Country Country Town/Village Customer
England Bedfordshire Heath and Reach C. Ridgway
  Cambridgeshire Chatteris Joseph Moulton
  Cheshire Northenden Sir Edward William Watkin
  Cumberland Carlisle Edward Pattison Sheldon
    Mealsgate George Moore
  Derbyshire Borrowash Mr. German
    Borrowash William Barron & Son
    Burbage-on-the-Wye Buxton Lime Company
    Derby Frederick J. Forman
    Norbury Samuel William Clowes
    Spital Edwin Mason
  Devon Barnstaple Charles Henry Williams
    Eggbuckland John James Elliot
    Filleigh Earl Fortescue
    Ilfracombe H.J. Harding
    Ilfracombe Thomas H. Tronson
    Littleham Richard Sanders
    Lympstone Thomas Parr Perry
  Gloucestershire Upton St. Leonards John Dearman Birchall
  Hampshire Swarraton Lord Ashburton
  Lancashire Bolton B.M. Knowles
    Guide Bridge Jones & Co.
    Hurst Green Stonyhurst College
    Manchester E. Cole & Sons
    Manchester Thomas Ridley Hetherington
    Morecambe Charles Waller
    Royton J. Rowland
  Leicestershire Leicester Edward Shipley Ellis
    Leicester John Johnson
    Leicester John Stafford
    Leicester Richard Harris
    Osbaston Alfred Cox
    Prestwold Col. George Hussey Packe
    Rothley Rev. Burton
    Skeffington Geo. C. Neale
    Skeffington William Ward Tailby
    Stretton Charles H. Packe
    Thonock Lady Bacon
  Middlesex London Alfred Waterhouse
    London Edmund Hannay Watts
    London John Wills
    London Mr. Stepney
  Northamptonshire Guilsborough Rev. T.S. Hichens
    Laxton Lady Harriet Carbery
    Thrapston Rev. R.F. Eland
  Northumberland Newcastle upon Tyne Thomas Hodgkin
  Nottinghamshire Annesley Rev. Clement Howard Prance
    Balderton Thomas Spragging Godfrey jnr
    Mansfield Misses Eadson
    Newark-on-Trent Mr. Newton
    Nottingham Church Wardens
    Nottingham Robert Fisher
  Oxfordshire Heythrop Albert Brassey
    Middleton Stoney Earl of Jersey
  Rutland Bisbrooke Mr. Mason
    Burley-on-the-Hill William Berridge
  Somerset Clevedon T.R.M. English
  Staffordshire Tamworth Richard & Francis Allum
    Tettenhall Major Thorneycroft
  Surrey Dorking Sir (James John) Trevor Lawrence
    London Beckley & Holmes
    Norwood Rev. L.C. Randolph
  Warwickshire Coventry John Stevens
    Coventry New Free Library
    Easenhall Washington Jackson
    Nuneaton Capt. Henry Leigh Townshend
    Solihull Thomas Hewitt
  Yorkshire, East Riding Driffield J. Grimston
    South Dalton Lord Hotham
  Yorkshire, North Riding Guisborough Joseph Whitwell Pease
    Middlesbrough Mr. Nixon
  Yorkshire, West Riding Bingley Edward Sharp
    Bingley Edward Sharp
    Birkenshaw William Ackroyd
    Bradford Charles Waller
    Halifax John Lewis
    Halifax Louis John Crossley
    Horbury R. Wilson
    Northowram Abraham Briggs Foster
    Otley William Walker & Sons
    Rotherham Clement Beatson Clark
    Sheffield Francis Hobson
    Sheffield Henry Simpson
    Sheffield Henry Steel
    Sheffield Hiram Shaw
    Sheffield James Nicholson
    Sheffield Thomas Wilson
    Sheffield William Stones
    Wath upon Dearne S. Whitworth
  Unknown Unknown John Powers
    Unknown P. Lithgoe
    Unknown Royal Horticultural Society
Wales Monmouthshire Malpas Thomas Cordes
  Montgomeryshire Garthmyl Arthur Charles Humphrey


The geographical spread of customers in 1872 displayed some consistency in the trends seen in previous years. The number of clients from the combined area of Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire again fell for the sixth consecutive year and was down to a little above thirty-five per cent. Those from the south of England rose again, whilst those from the north of England reversed the decline of the previous year and rose to one-third. The total number of clients also rose to a little over the number seen in 1870.

Whilst the total number of orders and estimates increased by around twenty per cent on the previous year, it was down on 1870. Those for horticultural structures only fell to a little over ten per cent. Those for horticultural heating was down to twenty per cent whilst those for horticultural structures and heating rose to over forty per cent. Those for non-horticultural heating rose from nil the previous year up to a little over ten per cent and whilst it was an obvious improvement on the previous year is was still less than half the number recorded in 1870.

One of the more intriguing orders came from a Mr. Stepney of the Foreign Office, Downing Street, Westminster, London, who ordered a heated 23ft. by 12ft. 6in. conservatory with staging. Whether this was personal order, or one on behalf of the Government, is not recorded. In February, the firm undertook work for the Royal Horticultural Society, installing heating to the ‘Bottom House’, which included 144 yards of 4-inch pipes and 95 cement joints.


Sir Edward William Watkin

Sir Edward William Watkin[38], lived at Rose Hill Mansion[39], Longley Lane, Northenden, now a suburb of Manchester. He was the eldest son of Absalom Watkin, an English social, and political reformer, an anti-corn law campaigner and factory owner.

Sir Edwin William Watkin – The Graphic, 23 January, 1875

In 1843 he wrote a pamphlet entitled “A Plea for Public Parks”, becoming part of the committee that was subsequently responsible for creating three parks in Manchester and Salford, namely Peel, Phillips and Queen’s. The same year he, along with other members of the Manchester Athenaeum, started a successful movement to allow mill workers a half-day holiday on Saturday’s, resulting in the general closing of the warehouses at 2 p.m.[40]. He was also successful in the provision of public baths and washhouses,

In 1845, he co-founded the Manchester Examiner and married Mary Briggs, daughter of, Jonathan Mellor, Esq., of Hope House, Oldham. The same year, he left his fathers’ firm, to take-up the appointed Secretary to the Trent Valley Railway. Having started work in the counting house, of his fathers’ business, he had risen to the position of partner by the time he left.

In 1866, he became a director on the Great Western Railway and later the Great Eastern Railway. By 1881, he was director of nine railway companies.

He went on to play a significant role in the development of the railways, in not only the UK but also abroad including Canada, Greece (Athens to Piraeus), India and transport in the Belgian Congo.

He was also involved in a number of ill-fated projects, including a tunnel between Scotland and Ireland; a ship canal across Ireland; a large tower, at Wembley Park, to rival that of the Eiffel Tower. He also tried to build a Channel Tunnel to link the railways in the north of England with those on the continent; however, work stopped so after excavations started, due to financial and political issues.

He served as a Liberal Member of Parliament for the constituencies of Great Yarmouth (1857–1858) Stockport (1864–1868) and Hythe in Kent (1874–1895).

The first order came via Edward Dawson, of Royal York Chambers, Grimsby for a heated ¾-span 52ft. by 17ft. partitioned vinery, with 1,105 superficial feet of vine wire. The heating system comprised of No. 3 boiler, 74 yards 4-inch, 14 yards 3-inch heating pipes and 62 cement joints.

Later in the year Sir Edward Watkin ordered a heated 41ft. by 10ft. partitioned lean-to forcing house; 300 superficial feet cucumber and melon wire; 72 superficial feet of slate fronts to beds along with 255 superficial feet of slate bottoms to the beds. The heating system utilised the boiler previously installed, together with 109 yards of 4-inch heating pipe and 60 cement joints.

Between 1875 and 1877, he purchased a few miscellaneous items from Messenger & Co., amounting to £14 1s. 5d.


Rose Hill Mansion, Longley Lane, Northenden – 1898 OS Map

The two structures, purchased in 1872, remained until after 1934, by which time the house was a convalescent home. Around 2003, Rose Hill Mansion was converted into luxury flats and the surrounding gardens were flattened to make way for a select-gated development comprising of two-bedroomed apartments[41].


Rose Hill Mansion, Northenden



Edwin Mason


Site of Spital House, Spital Lane, Chesterfield


Edwin Mason was a tobacco manufacturer[42], who lived at Spital House[43], Spital Lane, Chesterfield. In February, he received an estimate of £315 9s. 9d. for a heated 76ft. long by 17ft. range partitioned into three houses. It was rather unusual in that two houses, each 24ft. long were span-roofed, whilst the third, 28ft. long, was ¾-span. External decoration was to be provided by a complete length of cresting (subsequently removed from the estimate), together with 4 finials. Internally there was to be a 70ft. long iron walkway; 760 superficial feet of vine wire to the roof; seven slate stages of differing sizes (one 10ft. x 3ft. 6in, one 12ft. x 5ft., one 6ft. 6in. x 2ft. 6in.; two 24ft. x 2ft. 6in; two 4ft. x 2ft. 6in.), together with 175 superficial feet of slate bottoms and 59ft. long run of slate fronts with accompanying wood lintels. Heating was to be provided by two No. 8 Boilers, 178 yards of 4-inch, 64 yards of 3-inch, 29 yards of 2-inch heating pipes and 189 cement joints. An addendum to this estimate included a heated 24ft. long ¾ span (same roof profile as the two 24ft. long houses in the original estimate) early vinery to form a 100ft. long range. Additional full length slate bed, 2ft. 6in iron walkway and vine wire to the roof. The additional heating components brought the total to 237 yards of 4-inch, 80 yards of 3-inch, 33 yards of 2-inch heating pipes and 236 cement joints. This addition brought the total estimate to £396, with a discount of £16 as Mr. Mason paid cash, with an initial payment to be made when the installation had begun, with the balance on completion. However, similar to many estimates today, there were various caveats regarding price increases. If Edwin Mason agreed to proceed with the installation during the summer, then the increase would be limited to £10, otherwise he would be liable to full cost of any increases in the price of heating pipes and other iron components.

Spital House, Chesterfield – 1878 OS Map

In the event agreement was not reached, for fourteen months later, in April 1873, a revised estimate was forthcoming. Essentially all the components were identical to the original estimate; however, they were all subjected to significant price increases – 80% on the heating pipes; 45% on the boiler, valves, iron staging and walkway; 20% on all the other materials; adding an additional £101 or 25% on the original estimate. In the end both parties accepted a compromise figure of £465 an increase of £69, almost 18%.

The range was built a little to the northeast of the residence, close to the embankment of a railway line than ran across the end of the property and still extant in 1934[44]. After the Second World War, the residence was initially used as a storage depot, then as a convent school, following which it was demolished[45].


James Nicholson

James Nicholson (1824-1909) of John Nicholson and Sons was a cutlery & steel manufacturer with a factory at Mowbray Street, Sheffield.

In the late 1860s, he engaged architects Messrs Hill and Swann to design and build a new residence known as Moordale, on the corner of Tapton Park Road and Fulwood Road, Sheffield.

Moordale, Tapton Park Road, Sheffield – 1893 Town Plan

In 1872, the architects engaged Thomas Messenger to build an elaborate conservatory attached to the west side of the residence. Priced at £192, it had a curved roof, projecting entrance, several folding doors, ornamental twinned finials, corbelled pedestals and 50ft. of cresting. Internally it was furnished with five stages, amounting to 162 superficial feet, costing £7 10s. The accompanying heating system included a No. 4 boiler, and cost £38 5s. complete.

Later the same year the architects re-engaged Thomas Messenger regarding a heated 41ft. 6in. long two-compartment vinery, with iron walkway and staging. The estimate including provision for heating the billiard room, totalled £243 4s. but was discounted by £19 down to £224 4s. The vinery was to have a full run of cresting along the roof, a full length of vine wire, totalling 914 superficial feet and a 17ft. by 2ft. 6in iron walkway. The fittings included 6 stages, one-stepped measuring 12ft. by 9ft., 1 flat stage measuring 24ft. by 4ft., two flat measuring 5ft. by 3ft. and finally, 2 flat measuring 6ft. by 4ft. The vinery heating system included a No. 8 boiler to replace the original No. 4 boiler installed to heat the conservatory, 83 yards of 4-inch, 4 yards of 3-inch, 38 yards of 2-inch heating pipes and 81 cement joints. The heating to the billiard room was to use the new No. 8 boiler, along with a 6ft. long coil radiator comprised of eighteen 2-inch pipes. One unusual option offered was to extend the vinery roof over the whole length of back wall, adding a foot to the width of the roof. It appears that the vinery was built to the original dimensions as one of this size appears on a later map of the area.

Moordale still stands, although somewhat altered and is now a public house, known as the The Florentine, though none of horticultural buildings remain.



Commercial Nurserymen

As seen earlier, commercial nurseries played an important, if low key, role in helping Thomas Messenger establish his business. During 1872, Thomas Messenger received a number of orders from commercial nurserymen.

Richard Sanders, of Heale House[46], Littleham, Devon purchased a heated 60ft. by 19ft. ¾-span range constructed against an existing wall. It was divided into three partitions to be used as a vinery and plant house. The structure had a complete run of cresting together with two finials. Vine wiring was applied to the back wall in both the vineries and plant house, which occupied 47ft. of the 6oft. The order contained an iron walk that only served 21ft. of the 60ft. length and five stages, one 13ft. long, one 25ft, two at 7ft. 2in. and two at 4ft. 6in. The heating was provided by a No 4 boiler, 102 yards of 4-inch, 33 yards of 2-inch heating pipes and 105 cement joints.

It appears that Mr. Robert Toswill Veitch, a nurseryman, of New North Road, Exeter, made the introduction and secured the order, receiving a 10 per cent. commission from Thomas Messenger, amounting to £27 18s. 3d.

At around the same time Mr. Veitch received another commission of 10 per cent., amounting to £7 14s. 6d., for securing an order from Mr. John James Elliot of Leigham House, Eggbuckley, Plymouth, Devon. The order was similar to that at Heale House, consisting of a heated 50ft. by 15ft. 9in. ¾-span roof range consisting of three houses. Again, it was constructed against a wall, with a full length of cresting and two finials. It had vine wire strung along the whole of the back wall and heating was provided using a No. 7 boiler with 90 yards of 4-inch, 8 yards of 3-inch, 9 yards of 2-inch heating pipes and 77 cement joints.

Messrs Barron and Son, of Elvaston Nurseries, Borrowash, Derbyshire not only ordered on their own behalf but also ordered two structures, staging, iron walks and a heating system on behalf of a Mr. German, probably of the Manor House, Borrowash, about 5 miles to the east of Derby city centre. Interestingly Messrs Barron and Son only received a commission of 2½ per cent.

Messrs E. Cole & Sons, of Withington Nurseries, Withington, Manchester, ordered a conservatory, together with six slate stages, again probably for one of their own clients.

Messrs Richard and Francis Allum[47], of Lady Bank Nurseries, Tamworth, Staffordshire, who also had premises in Fazeley, purchased ventilation equipment and enquired about a heating system, both with and without a boiler.

In March, Hiram Shaw of Richmond Nursery, Handsworth, near Sheffield, ordered a heated 72ft. by 11ft. 6in. lean-to partitioned vinery, with 1,458 superficial feet of vine wire. The heating system which had three pipes along the front and end of the first vinery and only two pipes in the second consisted of a No. 4 boiler, 90 yards of 4-inch 15 yards of 2-inch heating pipe and 69 cement joints. Two months after Thomas Messenger sold the business Hiram Shaw returned ordering a heating system for an unknown structure. The system included a new No. 4 boiler, the same size as installed three years earlier, 126 yards of 4-inch pipe 8 yards of 2-inch heating pipes and 68 cement joints. The nursery, which by the 1890s was extensive although much smaller than those of Handsworth Nurseries about half a mile away, who were also clients of Thomas Messenger as early as 1869.


High Street Factory



Thomas Goode Messenger set-up his business on a relatively small site located behind No. 24, High Street, Loughborough. The site ran on a NNE-SSW alignment back from behind the ‘backyards’ of the High Street properties reaching as far as the Police Court on Town Hall Passage. This elongated plot, with access off High Street, essentially ran parallel with Wood Gate and property was bounded on all four sides. On the NNE side by backyards of the High Street properties, on the WNW side by Mr. Edward Chatterton Middleton’s property, on the SSW side by the Police Court and on the ESE side by Mr. Greenwood of the King’s Head Hotel.




Factory Fire

On 19th December 1872, Messengers’ High Street factory suffered a disastrous fire as described in the Loughborough Advertiser on the same day:-


About half past two o’clock this (Thursday) morning the premises of Mr. T. G. Messenger horticultural builder, &c., in this town, were discovered to be on fire, and the highly combustible nature of the stock and material contained therein, the whole range of buildings were soon enveloped in one mass of flames. The fire spread with such rapidity that the adjoining premises were soon in danger, and we understand that position of the stabling and building in rear of King’s Head hotel became ignited; and fears were entertained for the safety of the whole immediate neighbourhood. From the shop of Mr. Brown, grocer and others, adjoining, the stocks, &c., were removed; while the roading up Leicester road, for a long distance, were lined with hearses, mourning coaches, cabs and all kinds of articles of a like description, which were wisely removed from the premises of Mr. Greenwood that were in such danger of being burnt down.

The fire engines under Captain Hodson, were on the scene of disaster as speedily as possible, and with their exertions, added by the assistance of a number of tradesman of the town, and others who were present, the fire was got under soon after four o’clock, but it was not altogether extinguished at seven o’clock.

The illumination therefrom when the conflagration was at its height may be termed as awfully grand; and but for the recollection of the horrors and ravages of the devouring element it would have been a pretty site. The light attracted thousands of spectators from all parts of town, and we learn that the reflection was plainly seen at places many miles distant.

The origin of the fire we have not heard nor whether or not the property is injured.

The loss must be very considerable as the premises are a complete wreck.

We ought to add that most efficient aid was rendered by the police force under Inspector Moore and Sergt. Holloway.

A fuller account of the incident was reported in The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury on 21st December.


A fire of very alarming character occurred at Loughborough on Thursday last, Mr. T.G. Messenger, horticultural builder, &c., of that town, was the occupier of extensive two-storey workshops and offices at the back of a yard leading from the High-street. It was on these premises that P.C. Goldsmith, who was on duty in the Market-place, observed a light at a quarter-past two o’clock on Thursday morning, and upon a closer inspection, discovering the engine-room to be on fire, he immediately gave an alarm. A person named Thomas Tyler[48], residing a short distance from the scene of the fire, hearing the alarm, jumped out of bed, hurriedly saddled a horse and conveyed information respecting the fire to Mr. Hudson, the Captain of the Fire Brigade. The firemen were at once summoned, and shortly afterwards arrived on the spot, when it was found that, owing to the highly combustible nature of the stock and material, the greater portion of the premises became enveloped in flames. Stand-pipes were as speedily as possible affixed to the hydrants in the Market-place. High-street and Wood Gate, and the firemen set to work with a most determined will and energy to subdue the flames. In the interim of the calling together of the firemen, Inspector Moore had been apprised of the fact that a conflagration was raging on Mr. Messenger’s premises, and with creditable alacrity that officer summoned together several constables to render assistance in allaying the progress of the flames. Notwithstanding the exertions of the firemen, the flames spread with such rapidity that the adjoining premises were endangered; in fact, a portion of the stabling and buildings near the rear of the King’s Head Hotel became ignited. The stock of goods belonging to Mr. Brown, grocer, and other tradesmen in the immediate vicinity of the fire were removed, Leicester-road being lined for some distance with hearses, mourning coaches, cabs, and other vehicles, from the premises of Mr. Greenwood. Fears were at one time entertained for the safety of the Police Station, which is situated in close contiguity to Mr. Messenger’s premises on the south-western side, and the contents of Sergeant Holloway’s house were removed for safety. But for a large quantity of water being continually poured upon the Police Station by a well-directed hose in the hands of Mr. Cook, sergeant of one of the fire brigades there can be no doubt that those public buildings would have suffered considerable damage. The illumination from the conflagration attracted many hundreds of persons to the sport, but there were very few idle hands amongst the number, almost everyone present being willing and anxious to assist in checking, as far as possible, the onward ravages of the devouring element. At about half-past three o’clock a telegram was dispatched to Leicester for additional aid, but it was not until nearly six o’clock that Superintendent Johnson, with a fire engine, and a number of members of the Borough and Sun Fire Brigades, arrived at Loughborough. The engine was not called into requisition owing to the fire having been greatly subdued prior to its arrival, but, nevertheless, the Leicester firemen rendered material service to the Loughborough brigades in getting the flames under complete control. At seven o’clock no further danger was apprehended but the beams and other principal portions of the woodwork of which the buildings had been constructed continued to smoulder until late in the day. The workshops, which covered a large area of ground, were almost entirely destroyed; the offices, however, were but slightly injured. The chimney stack, near which the fire first originated, remained intact. A visit to the premises after he fire, showed that they had been completely gutted, a portion of the brickwork – the mere outside shell – remaining, while the machinery lay in gnarled and twisted forms, and in the most dire confusion. The origin of the fire had not been ascertained. It is estimated the damage will amount to £4,000 or £5,000, which is partly insured in the Sun Fire Office. It is a melancholy fact to contemplate that the fire will be the means of causing between 120 and 130 hands to be thrown out of employment, as also that the tools used by Mr. Messenger’s employees have been in every instance destroyed. It is estimated that no less than 300,000 gallons of water were required to subdue the conflagration. This is the first fire of significance which has occurred since the in Loughborough Waterworks Company has been established, and it is generally believed that the plentiful supply of water the company was enabled to furnish on the occasion, prevented the destruction of the adjacent buildings, on one of which benzoline, paraffin, gunpowder, and similar explosives were stored in large quantities.

Thomas Messenger quickly went about both finding temporary workshops and starting the process of re-building the destroyed buildings[49]. Whilst the fire meant that nearly all his workforce would be temporarily laid off, he was able to take nearly all of them back on almost immediately, either working in the temporary works or clearing out and starting the business of re-building the High Street site.


See 1873 for the continuation of the story.



  1. The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, 20th April 1872.

  2. The Nottinghamshire Guardian, 14th November 1862.

  3. No longer available, it was invented in 1834 by Dr. Carl Warburg in British Guiana, now Guyana. It was used for fevers, especially tropical fevers, including malaria and considered, by some, to be superior to quinine.

  4. The Standard, 13th September 1860.

  5. The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 8th January 1870.

  6. The London Gazette, 3rd October 1871.

  7. Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 1st October 1871.

  8. The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 4th May 1872.

  9. The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 25th October 1873.

  10. The London Gazette, 23rd June 1876.

  11. The London Gazette, 31st May 1872.

  12. The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, Saturday, 15th June 1872.

  13. The London Gazette, 28th May 1875.

  14. of 48-49, King Street, Woolwich, London.

  15. The Gardeners Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 22nd June 1872, page 831.

  16. The Birmingham Daily Post, 20th June 1872.

  17. The Gardeners Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 22nd June 1872, page 831.

  18. The Birmingham Daily Post, 20th June 1872.

  19. The Gardeners Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 22nd June 1872, page 831.

  20. The Birmingham Daily Post, 20th June 1872.

  21. The Birmingham Daily Post, 1st July 1872.

  22. The Gardeners Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 22nd June 1872, page 831.

  23. The Birmingham Daily Post, 20th June 1872.

  24. The Birmingham Daily Post, 19th June 1872.

  25. The Birmingham Daily Post, 16th July 1872.

  26. Ibid.

  27. The Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener and Country Gentlemen, 15th August 1872.

  28. The Gardeners Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 17th August 1872, page 1098.

  29. Mower and Roller Manufacturers, Smithfield Iron Works, Leeds; 54 and 55, Blackfriars Road, London, S.E.

  30. West Grove Works, Halifax, manufacturer of the Excelsior Boiler.

  31. The Gardeners Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 31st August 1872.

  32. Ibid.

  33. The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 22nd June 1872.

  34. Ibid.

  35. The Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener and Country Gentlemen, 26th September 1872, page 246.

  36. of Welton Park Daventry.

  37. The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 31st August 1872.

  38. (1819-1901) – the son of a wealthy cotton, Absalom Watkin.

  39. Bought by his father in 1832.

  40. The Graphic, 23rd January 1875.

  41. South Manchester Reporter, 20th February, 2003.

  42. His factory, known as Spital Mill, was located just a few hundred yards north of his residence. The business specialised in Irish Roll Tobacco, Cropper and Virginia Brands, but went out of business around 1907.

  43. The district of Spital takes its name from the 12th century leper hospital. Spital House was built by Gervase Shaw in the early 18th century, and may have occupied the site of religious buildings connected with the hospital.

  44. Ordnance Survey Map.

  45. North East Midland Photographic Record.

  46. Now known as Lampton Court.

  47. The firm went into liquidation in 1883, when they were trading at Market Street, Tamworth and at Bonehill, near Tamworth.

  48. A corn, cake and flour grass and garden seeds, etc., merchant, living on the High Street.

  49. The Loughborough Advertiser, 26th December 1872.